NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Cohesion may not be the first thought that comes to mind when taking a look at the MLS Expansion Draft. After all, by its very nature, the process involves drafting players from different MLS clubs, with the expectation they can form a team.
“You look at the combinations of players we were able to put together,” Nashville GM Mike Jacobs explained after Tuesday’s event. “It’s not just guys who fit positional profiles, but you have guys at ages that we think will fit together, we have guys who speak similar languages — which we’ve talked about is important to us — I think for the most part, I think their games will really fit together. So honestly, we’re absolutely tickled to have the guys we ended up with.”
The Boys in Gold drafted Minnesota United striker Abu Danladi, New England Revolution defender Jalil Anibaba and Sporting Kansas City utility man Jimmy Medranda, and also flipped two picks in the immediate aftermath of the draft.
Portland Timbers defender Zarek Valentin was traded (with $75,000 General Allocation Money) to the Houston Dynamo for goalkeeper Joe Willis, while Atlanta United forward Brandon Vazquez netted $150,000 in Targeted Allocation Money and $50,000 in GAM over the next two years in a deal with FC Cincinnati.
“[The Expansion Draft] is the best chance for us to add not only quality, but quantity as well,” Jacobs explained. “To be able to add five guys, and we ended up being able to add six guys when you look at the haul, when you include Daniel’s trade and Adrian’s trade.
“To add that many players in the course of the expansion draft, along with the allocation money we acquired to then be able to go back and get other players, we continued to strengthen our war chest of allocation money while adding quality players to help our team in year one.”
It’s the task of head coach Gary Smith meld these newly-acquired pieces with the nine signings already in the fold and more to come by the time of NSC’s Feb. 29 MLS opener against Atlanta United.
“This is a collective. I’ve got to coach them, but this is about pulling together a team that can be competitive, that are going to have a particular identity, and I think we’re all on the same page with that,” said Smith. “We’ve got some young talent, we’ve got some veteran experience, we’ve got some very good foundational pieces, and we’ve also got some individuals that know the league inside and out, and have seen it all before. I’m very, very pleased.”